How to choose a round the world motorcycle?

How to choose a round the world motorcycle?

One of the most asked questions in the motorcycle world is "what is the best motorcycle?", and even though incomplete, it is not a wrong question to ask.

Nevertheless, if it is hard to answer it on a good day, the answer takes a different complexity when we are talking about any long-distance endeavours.

When on the road for long periods, the bike becomes our safe haven, our home away from home, and as such, it needs to check a set of specifications like no other.

Brands and media, those offer us "adventure" models and shower us with specs and gadgets, they even create ways to take electric bikes in cross country adventures hoping to show us that all bikes can go everywhere with ease.

Our friends or motorcycle groups, those tend to answer with whatever bike they have or support, so no help there either.

This being, between miss information and lack of clarity in the info we can gather, how are we to know what is the best bike for us?

Easy, we need to focus on ourselves and our needs, and to help you do just that, I'm sharing nine steps for you to choose the best round the world motorcycle for yourself!

  1.  Maintenance

    For a Round The World expedition, less is usually more.

    Top of the line bikes tend to require specific tools and computers to fix problems, and that is not something you will be able to carry or even to find in many parts of the world.

    Electronics are hard to bush-fix, and many countries are scarce in dealerships for major brands.

    This means that an electrical problem in many parts of the world may mean weeks waiting for parts or a premature end to your trip.

    This forces you to be independent to a certain extent, so make sure you know how to fix your bike!

    Carry a toolkit and some wear and tear parts.

    It may be essential to replace specific bolts and screws beforehand to minimize your tool kit.

    You want to go light but be able to fix as many problems as possible by the side of the road.

  2.  Weight

    RTW means you will be riding almost every day, so wear and tear on the body is real, and you need to pay attention to it.

    Lighter bikes will carry less weight and be more unstable at speed, but they will also help you be more all-around comfortable, confident, and fresh at the end of the day, especially if off-road will be involved.

    If you are planning on running mainly road - remember that good roads aren’t available all around the globe - a heavier bike will be more comfortable at speed and when trucks are around.

    Adjust the weight of your bike with gear, to the type of terrains you are aiming to ride on.

  3. Comfort

    We don’t all have the same definition of comfort, so it’s essential to define it. 

    On my books, a KTM EXC will be more comfortable for hard off-road, and a BMW GS will take the win on pavement and even fire roads, for instance.

    Nevertheless, it is possible to make even an enduro focused EXC more comfortable on the road with a softer suspension, different seat, different sprockets, and a cush drive hub, just as an example.

    Regardless of what you feel you might need to do to get a bike comfortable to yourself, budget for it before buying the bike.

    Avoid surprises as those can be expensive, and remember that the final price of the bike will include all your comfort tweaks.

  4. Power

    We all love big numbers, but RTW expedition are not races.

    No one needs 150hp when driving to enjoy cultures and sights.

    However, low power will make carrying weight, going uphills or overtaking a bit more complicated.

    We all like different feedbacks from our bikes, so I can’t tell you a magic horsepower number, or a perfect power to weight ration.

    Just remember that you don’t need the most powerful motorcycle in the world to get you around the planet, you need the most reliable.

  5. Off-road ability

    Most of the world is not paved, so going around on an R1 or a GSXR may be tricky, doable, as many have done it before, but tricky.

    I often say that all bikes are adventure, and I stand by it. The issue is how prepared are you, to deal with the wrong bike in the wrong environment.

    If dual sport and adventure bikes will handle off-road with ease and no breaks, a cruiser or touring bike may require a tighter maintenance plan if you start riding it past the limits of the paved roads.

    Evaluate your route, evaluate maintenance necessities accordingly, and decide what type of bike is better for your needs.

  6. Looks

    A high-end bike is an attention grabber anywhere in the world, no matter if you are in London, New York or the South East Asian forests.

    Although high-end bikes tend not to be stolen in poorer countries, as there is little to no black market for them, you may feel uncomfortable riding an expensive bike through impoverished locations.

    We all deal with that differently, but I have felt that before, and I can't help I really wished I had a different bike at those times, I would've worried less, and enjoyed more.

  7. Modifications

    You will not find a “ready to go” bike from any showroom, that does not exist.

    Lights, GPS's, USB sockets, extra fuel capacity and luggage, are just some of the mods you may require, and although necessary, those can become expensive fast.

    Choosing the right bike is also choosing the one we can afford, so make a list of the extras you require and subtract them to the value you are willing to pay for your motorcycle.

    The remaining will be your available budget.

    Don't forget, mods will happen, and they can easily sidetrack any budget!

  8. Overall value

    If buying a sturdy bike is mandatory, sinking all your money into it may not be smart.

    Going around the world isn’t necessarily cheap, so getting a good bike for the buck will leave more money in your pocket to enjoy the trip.

    You will be riding the bike, not any badge it may carry.

    People are riding around the world on anything from Honda Cubs, to GSXR’s, to URAL bikes and of course up to high-end BMW’s and KTM’s.

    There are no wrong choices as long as it is YOUR choice for YOUR needs.

  9. Be honest with yourself

    It is common for new riders to find a gap between the bike they envision themselves riding around the world on, and the motorcycle they actually need.

    However, the more honest you are with yourself, the better the outcome of your adventure will be.

    No point taking a BMW GS if for the most part you will be doing harder off-road, as there is no real point in taking a dual sport like a DR650 if the worst you intend to do are dry unpaved roads when you are not on a highway.

    Forget what others before you did, and forget what might look good on a magazine cover. 

    Remember that it will be YOUR trip, YOUR experience, YOUR comfort, and most important, YOUR specific needs!

    The more honest you are about your needs, the better the bike choice you will make. 

I've had many adventures where even though I had a lot of fun; I wished I had a different bike.

The world is an incredible place, but it is not as easy to ride on as it is in our dreams.

Go over the list, and you will see that it will help you narrow down your options.

Be thoughtful, be honest with yourself, and have a fantastic trip!

How to choose a round the world motorcycle

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